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The Undertaking by Louise Glück

The Undertaking
Louise Glück

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime.
There you are—cased in clean bark you drift
through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.
You are free. The river films with lilies,
shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm. And now
all fear gives way: the light
looks after you, you feel the waves’ goodwill
as arms widen over the water; Love,

the key is turned. Extend yourself—
it is the Nile, the sun is shining,
everywhere you turn is luck.


It can be so easy to give in to despair. Easier than participating in the world sometimes, especially when your neighbours are fighting again about the parking slot, and then there are hairline cracks on the wall in the hallway after the last earthquake, and my god, I think the gas prices are up again and I barely have enough money to buy groceries, and it’s salted egg and tomatoes for lunch again, isn’t it.

But then you make me laugh and I’m done for, I want more of it now.

Yes—the darkness lifts. Even in this lifetime. So, my dear self: it’s not so bad after all. I think you’ll be okay.


This poem appeared in The First Four Book of Poems by Louise Glück, published by Ecco, 1995. Shared here with profound gratitude.


Read more works by Louise Glück • Find books by this poet • Or view my library


Explore poems in pursuit of: hopetransformationresilience • Or browse the index

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on this day

Comments (2)

  • T

    Your curated poems and marginalia resonate with me. Surprising and familiar. Thank you for writing and sharing. I hope you never stop.


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